Time, I think, to discuss cover art.
Romance novels, especially Harlequin Romances, Silhouette Romances, and Zebra Books, tend to feature a shirtless, well-muscled man towering over a busty gal whose top is about to fall off her bosoms while she clings to the man, or he is attempting to mount her. People are not embarrassed to be caught reading Romance Novels because it’s a Romance Novel, I think they’re embarrassed by the covers. (Perhaps this is why there are so many of these smutty, embarrassingly jacketed novels for free on Amazon Kindle?) The couple is inevitably sitting in a field surrounded by unicorns and rainbows; or on a the deck of a ship, her back pressed into the hard, wooden stairs up to the helm; or in the woods with birds flocking around them. Not comfortable places to be making the sexy times.
Now, while these covers are awkward and embarrassing, they are so because they are a ridiculous extreme of Sexual Fantasy. No one is ever going to actually sit in a dew covered meadow at dawn with her blouse falling down around her breasts while she clings to the very muscular leg of a shirtless man who is holding a spear in one hand to show that he is a Protector, and has a bird alighting in the other to show that he is Gentle. But someone might very well get thrown against a wall and have mind blowing sex.
The cover art chosen for Wallbanger is as shocking as it’s title with it’s suggestion of actual intercourse rather than the overt expression of heightened arousal that the campy covers portray. It might even be more embarrassing than the others. The others are ridiculous enough that even though they are embarrassing they’re also funny. But Wallbanger is just realistic enough that I almost feel like I’ve walked into a couple’s bedroom by accident, catching them in the act.
That being said, the cover art is appropriate. Everyone who has ever woken up in the nighttime to hear a couple going at it in the next room knows exactly this sort of awkwardness. Especially when it’s too late to text a friend or you cannot wake up the person sleeping next to you so they can experience it with you (because it is either just too funny, or, sometimes, too much pressure to be the only person in the know). Therefore the shocking nature of the cover art precisely mimics the shocking way Caroline discovers that her neighbor is a passionate lover.
This was originally posted on Literary Bex (the Tumblr) as a part of the Wallbanger by Alice Clayton run. To see the original post (and the poster my friend C made once while I wasn’t home) click on the above picture.